The 22 Best Backpacks for College Students in 2022

best backpacks for college students
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Picking the best backpack for college students can get pretty tricky. Of course, you want to look stylish, but you’re also going to be using the bag for at least a year and possibly beyond, depending on how well you get on with it.

Therefore, it’s important to choose college backpacks that check all the right boxes. The best backpacks for college students are large enough to carry your new laptop, books, your best water bottle and other daily essentials. It should also rest comfortably on your shoulders throughout the day and be durable enough to last for several semesters.

If you’re not quite sure what you want or need in your bag, it’s definitely worth checking out our guide ensuring you pick the right backpack. Deciding between looks and function as well as comfort and capacity are all important factors that need to be considered before you commit your cash.

To help you decide, we put together a list of the best backpacks for college students. We have options from top brands like Day Owl and Fjallraven as well as budget buys and lesser-known commuter options. Check out all 22 and decide which option is best for your college experience.

  

1. Day Owl Backpack

BEST OVERALL

By keeping it casual in 2022, you’re keeping it trendy. Fashion trends nowadays are all about ease and comfort and with this effortlessly cool Day Owl backpack, you’ll be hitting the nail on the head.

It has a pretty mundane exterior that helps you merge into the crowd of people on campus all while containing multiple secret pockets and a recycled canvas. It even comes with a lifetime of free repairs, so no matter how many times you rip it, Day Owl will fix it for you.

Day Owl Backpack, best backpacks for college students Courtesy of Day Owl

  

2. Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Laptop Backpack

RUNNER UP

If you head to any college campus in the United States today, you’ll find a sea of Herschel Supply Co. backpacks. You’ll also find several options from these companies on this list, for the simple reason that these companies make the best backpacks for college students, period.

This option from Herschel is well-reviewed, large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop, durable and on-trend. However, it’s also an unpretentious backpack, perfect as an everyday carryall for class. 

college backpack herschel Courtesy of Amazon

  

3. Mancro Laptop Backpack

BEST BUDGET BUY

Surely almost 20,000 people can’t be wrong? The Mancro Laptop Backpack has an impressive number of five-star reviews and sports a simple yet stylish design, which provides a versatility few other bags can achieve.

There’s a wealth of pockets for comfortable storage of everything from your smartphone and laptop (up to 15.6″) to a bottle, an umbrella and even your lunch. The smart bag also sports an easy-to-carry handle on top and a padlock for security, plus a built-in USB port for easy charging on the go.

Mancro Laptop Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

4. JanSport SuperBreak One Backpack

BEST CLASSIC STYLE

The JanSport SuperBreak One Backpack is the right choice for you if you are after a classic college backpack. It’s available in a range of colors and features one main compartment as well as a front accessory pocket. Furthermore, the bag’s straps are padded for comfort, and there’s a top-mounted carry handle for alternative carrying options.

Pretty much every student in America is familiar with JanSport bags, and you can never go wrong by picking out one that speaks to you. No matter the colorway, this is always one of the best backpacks for college students.

Plus, it’s a #1 Best Seller on Amazon with over 22,000 five-star reviews. So, you really can’t go wrong.

JanSport SuperBreak One Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

5. The North Face Borealis Backpack

RELIABLE OPTION

Hauling around a heavy bag usually takes a nasty toll on your back, especially if you do it every day. That’s why we love this spacious option from North Face. This nylon and polyester backpack features adjustable shoulder straps that boast an extra layer of foam.

Plus, the bag has a padded back panel with a spine channel that’s even been endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association. If you pick this one up, your back will thank us later. Plus, it’s just dang cool.

The North Face Borealis Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

6. Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

BEST FJALLRAVEN

You can never go wrong with the Classic Fjallraven backpack, today, tomorrow or ever.

The Kanken is a must-have backpack for college students. For real, take a look around your campus right now — you’ll spot at least three of these passing by. They’re as popular as it gets.

The bag itself sports a range of carrying options, including tote handles and straps, as well as two open side pockets and a rain flap for protection from the elements. Inside, there’s a large central storage space, a place to store a 15-inch laptop and an info tag so your bag is easy to identify if you lose it.

And if you’re more of the eco-leaning type, we highly recommend checking out Fjallraven’s Tree Kanken backpack as well!

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

    

7. Ronyes College Bag

BEST SNAP-SHUT

This minimalistic beauty from Ronyes pulls off that snap shut look you’ve always loved in style.

Fit your Macbook, notebooks, pens and pencils alike comfortably in the snap’s interior while throwing your Nalgene right in the side exterior pockets. This is probably the epitome of a college backpack, too. We can already picture you throwing it on your dorm bed after a long week of classes before getting ready for a night out with your buds.

Plus, it is so damn cheap with a number of great color options to choose from.

Ronyes College Bag Courtesy of Amazon

    

8. Carhartt Essentials Backpack

MOST RUGGED

It’s safe to say we’re obsessed with Carhartt. How could you not be? The brand is just too damn cool.

That said, we love this water-repellent backpack made for any kind of college student. It comes with a huge main compartment that has room for a 15-inch laptop in addition to a front pocket that you can throw any knickknacks in.

Colors are definitely limited to neutrals, but that’s all you need when it comes to Carhartt. Trust us, anything too eclectic is a no-no with this brand.

Carhartt Essentials Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

9. lululemon City Adventurer Backpack

BEST FOR ATHLETIC TYPES

If you’re just as concerned with setting a personal record on your bench press as you are setting a personal record in class, this City Adventurer backpack from lululemon will be a great companion. Designed to be both an athletic bag and one of the best backpacks for college students, you’re getting the best of both worlds without having to sacrifice either.

With an exterior padded pocket, there’s room enough for a 15″ laptop, while an expandable pocket has enough room for all your sweaty gear. And with its minimalist design and range of colorways, it’ll look as good in the gym room as it does in the classroom. Just because it isn’t your standard gym bag, doesn’t mean it won’t work for workouts.

lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Courtesy of lululemon

    

10. Fjallraven Raven 28 Backpack

BEST UPDATED FJALLRAVEN

The Fjallraven Raven 28 model is ideal for kids in college. Designed specifically for students, this backpack comes with a pocket for 15″ laptops, as well as extra compartments for textbooks, snacks and anything else you need during a long day on campus.

This model doesn’t come in as many fun colors as other bags from Fjallraven, but it’s a durable and stylish laptop backpack that’s perfect for college students. And at a mid-range $105, it’s an affordable bag for most college students and is without a doubt one of the best Fjallraven backpacks out right now.

Fjallraven Raven 28 Backpack Courtesy of Fjallraven

  

11. Vessel Skyline Backpack

SLEEKEST

Minimalists will geek over this gorgeously sleek faux-leather backpack designed with water-resistant technology. The lustrous black exterior is so eyepopping, that you kind of forget it’s just a backpack. This baby has one large opening and an outside front bottom zip for extra knickknacks you’re bringing to class.

When it rains or snows at the beginning of the spring semester, you won’t even have to worry about the interior contents inside getting at all wet due to the water-resistant make.

Vessel Skyline Backpack Courtesy of Nordstrom

  

12. The Friendly Swede Waterproof Backpack

BEST FOR WET CONDITIONS

If your college is located somewhere more prone to rain than shine, it’s worth investing in this waterproof backpack. It might not be the most stylish backpack for college students on the list, but its minimalist look is still pretty cool. Plus, it will always keep your belongings dry.

This backpack is available in either black or white and features a roll-top main compartment to ensure no raindrops find their way inside. The backpack also features three outer zip pockets that are waterproof and ideal for smartphones or other small essentials.

white waterproof backpack on a white background, best backpacks for college students Courtesy of Amazon

  

13. Monos Metro Backpack

MOST DAPPER

We’re definitely swooning at this handsome all-black backpack from Monos. From on-campus dwellers to on-time commuters, a smaller bag is ideal for the kind of guy that doesn’t really need to bring it all. Fit your keys and wallet in the front pouch while sliding your 15-inch laptop and a few notebooks in the larger zipped interiors. You’ll look great and your back will thank you for carrying less.

It’s also available in a number of different colors, ranging in black, green, blue and grey nylon finishes, as well as brown, tan and ivory vegan leather exteriors. Right now, you can only pre-order this bad boy, but we suggest you do it quickly before the limited quantity available begins to diminish.

Monos Metro Backpack Courtesy of Monos

  

14. Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

MOST FASHIONABLE

With over 20 color combinations to choose from, the Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack allows the wearer to express his or her personality through their backpack.

These college backpacks also sport buckled top straps and front-facing pockets to add to the bags’ impressive rucksack style. On the front pocket, there’s a Herschel brand patch for a classy finish. The bag’s straps are padded for comfort, and the top pocket features a drawstring to ensure your belongings are always secure inside.

Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

    

15. Vorspack Clear Backpack

BEST CLEAR BACKPACK

Bare it all in a clear pack that shows you really don’t give a crap if people know what you’re lugging around. Popularized in recent years at concerts and music festivals, clear backpacks are now necessary for many big events. Snag one in advance for any rain-checked music events you’re planning on attending this year.

Until then, unapologetically show off that 14 cent Lisa Frank notebook you bought from Staples all semester long.

Vorspack Clear Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

16. Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack

BEST FOR INTERNS

With a unique design and neutral charcoal color, Everlane’s ReNew Transit Backpack is a trendy, compact sack made from 100% recycled polyester with a water-resistant finish. And get this, there’s a discreet internal zipper laptop sleeve to ensure your Macbook stays safe and sound.

Whether you’re on the way to a full-time position or it’s just one of those days you happen to spill your entire coffee on a woman’s lap on the A train again, stay looking cool and confident in a backpack made to tackle whatever kind of day you’re having.

Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack Courtesy of Everlane

  

17. MCM Stark 40 Visetos Backpack

BEST DESIGNER

Carry everything you need in a designer bag that’ll get the campus talking. While MCM’s Stark 40 Viestos Backpack resembles pebbled leather on the outside, it’s actually draped in coated canvas, giving it an ultramodern look and feel.

Dual zip compartments help organize and separate your books from your laptop. When the week’s over, use it as a charming weekend pack for visiting mom and dad. They’ll ask why the hell you chose to splurge on a backpack of all things, but, it’s fashion. You gotta do what you gotta do to look good.

MCM Stark 40 Viestos Backpack Courtesy of Nordstrom

  

18. Patagonia Black Hole Backpack

MOST SPACIOUS

Patagonia has been long known for its commitment to durable, high-quality and environmentally-friendly bags, and that tradition is alive and well in the Black Hole Backpack.

At 25L, it’s got a massive amount of storage, which means you’ll be able to toss anything and everything you can think of in there without worry. But it’s got to be able to carry the essential supplies for class, which it does with ease. A padded 15″ laptop sleeve allows for clear division inside the bag so things don’t get too jumbled around. Plus, the 100% recycled polyester ripstop has been coated with a TPU laminate that will hold up well in the elements.

Patagonia Black Hole Backpack Courtesy of Patagonia

  

19. L.L.Bean Continental Rucksack

BEST FOR WEEKEND HIKERS

Anyone who’s tried anything from L.L.Bean knows that every product they make is head-to-toe nature-ready. If you plan on making sure your weekend getaways involve totally disconnecting, while still making sure you can lug a laptop around, this is the college backpack you’ll want to have.

Its large main compartment has room enough for snacks, notebooks and your after-class gym garb while its side water bottle pockets can keep you well-hydrated on the trail. Though it’s sold in a couple of stellar colors, we love the classic khaki pictured below.

L.L.Bean Continental Rucksack Courtesy of L.L.Bean

    

20. XRAY Expandable Roll Top Backpack

BEST THROWBACK

Drawing from classic military-style bags, this backpack from XRAY is a modern update on a vintage favorite. The rolltop closure evokes that old-school style bag while incorporating modern features like a waterproof outer and space to keep your laptop.

Its toned-down, all-green design is great for those that aren’t into super bold colors. And, as with all college backpacks, there are plenty of pockets for storing all your various items.

XRAY Expandable Roll Top Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

21. Herschel Dawson Backpack

MOST ORGANIZED HERSCHEL

What makes the Dawson backpack different from other Herschel bags is that the front of the bag features two separate pockets instead of one large front compartment, so you’ll be able to throw your earbuds and keys in one pocket and your pens in the other. The 20.5L main compartment features a drawstring closure with a foam lining for added protection. The backpack comes in a variety of different color combinations, from classic black and tan to a vibrant Monaco blue and many others.

Herschel Dawson Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

   

22. MATEIN Rolling Backpack

BEST ROLLING BACKPACK

Okay, we know, there’s a huge vendetta just about everyone has against rolling backpacks, but you gotta hear us out with this one: textbooks can get heavy! Might as well roll them and save your back from any pain.

MATEIN makes a, dare we say, stylish rolling backpack for college students. It comes in an all-black coloration, has all of the bells and whistles you can ask for in a backpack and even can be worn as a regular backpack in case you don’t want to use its rolling powers in front of others.

MATEIN Rolling Backpack Courtesy of Amazon

  

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Some FAQs About the Best Backpacks for College Students

What do you pack in your backpack for college?

College students: we know this might sound hard, but pack anything you absolutely need for class in your backpack. Notebooks, laptop, pens, pencils, a water bottle, a snack if it's a long day — the list goes on. It's really up to you, but please don't show up to class with nothing to take notes on. You'll look like an idiot.

Where do you buy backpacks for college students?

You can purchase backpacks for college students wherever you do the majority of your shopping. Amazon is a solid spot that has a majority of excellent brands and deals. You can also check places like Target, Walmart and other large department stores. If you want to get a little fancier, places such as Urban Outfitters, Everlane and Nordstrom have some trendy-looking backpacks to consider.

How do you wash a backpack?

This is a fantastic question. Most backpacks that are made from cloth-like materials such as cotton, polyester and canvas can go directly into the washing machine. We suggest you wash your backpack on the lowest setting and do it solo. Some backpacks will say you should spot clean, so be sure to check your backpack's tag before you do anything. Never throw your backpack in the dryer — instead, we suggest you hang dry. Remember to take everything out before you put your backpack in the wash, too!